No. 19-659 In the Supreme Court of the United States
Miladis Salgado, Petitioner,
United States of America, Respondent.
On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Brief of Amici Curiae Law and Economics Scholars In Support of Petitioner
Introduction and Summary of Argument
This case entails competing interpretations of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (“CAFRA”), codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2465(b)(1). As Miladis Salgado’s petition for a writ of certiorari describes, the division in the lower courts over the meaning of “substantially prevails” has caused widespread confusion. The Eleventh Circuit’s approach is in conflict with the text and legislative history of the statute.
Amici submit this brief because the Eleventh Circuit’s approach is flawed for an additional reason: it negates the incentives crafted by CAFRA’s fee-shifting provision. As explained below, economic theory suggests that fee-shifting in this context would meaningfully deter the filing of inefficient and unmeritorious civil asset forfeiture actions, such as the one in this case. The Eleventh Circuit’s holding, however, eliminates this important constraint on civil asset forfeiture actions.
Amici respectfully request that the petition for a writ of certiorari be granted so the incentive structure adopted by Congress may be reestablished in the interests of efficiency and justice.
Because lower courts have charted a course around CAFRA’s fee-shifting provision, inefficient and unmeritorious forfeiture actions are not adequately deterred. Closure of this loophole would better protect the rights of innocent property owners and promote the just and efficient exercise of prosecutorial discretion.